Monday, September 27 2010, 11:06 BST
By Andrew Laughlin,
The advisory panel investigating local television in the UK for culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is reportedly ready to question the feasibility of his plans for the sector.
In June, Lazards head of UK investment banking Nicholas Shott was appointed to head the panel tasked with looking at ways to invigorate Britain's local TV services.
According to The Guardian, Shott's interim report will warn Hunt that advertising revenue alone will not be enough to support the minister's planned network of up to 80 local TV stations.
The report will also warn that nationwide coverage for local TV will only be truly viable after the rollout of cost effective IPTV networks.
Despite the warnings, Hunt is expected to forge ahead with his local TV plans when he responds to the report's findings tomorrow morning at a Royal Television Society conference. It is thought that he will announce a green paper to move the project forward.
Hunt is hoping that the government will be able to start licensing the next generation of local TV operators by summer 2011 towards the aim of having up to 20 stations running by the next general election in 2015.
However, many industry experts echo Shott's interim conclusions that the approach may not be financially viable under the currently turbulent advertising market.
Earlier in September, media consultant and Shott panel members Claire Enders claimed that there are "long intractable issues" with Hunt's local TV plans.
She said that a major issue facing local TV is that the UK's conurbations "are not appropriate for local television, they are not big enough".
Campaign group United For Local Television has previously argued that local TV services should be delivered under a unified Channel 6 branding and given spectrum on digital terrestrial television.
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